When Jim West visited the National Inventors Hall of Fame School in Akron last year, the inventor was handed a very practical task: to work with fifth graders to lessen the amount of sound traveling into the school's new library.
"Believe it or not, these students understood the acoustics and behavior of sound to the extent that they were able to come up with some extremely novel solutions to the problem they faced," West, who himself co-invented the microphone used in most cellphones, recalled.
West was on hand at the school to celebrate the grand opening of its new building, which included the library that was the subject of the students' work.
The inventor worked with students as the first participant in the school's visiting inventor program, which Knight Foundation funded in addition to supporting the National Invention Gallery.
The middle school selects its students through a lottery on the belief that - if given the chance - any child can succeed in the fields of science, technology, engineer and math, The new building is located next to Invent Now, which honors inventors and inventions.